John O’Leary welcomes gerontology expert Dr. Sarah Teten Kanter to the Live Inspired Podcast with tips to make caregiving and care receiving a time to savor and an opportunity for personal growth using the power of positive emotions.
Each day, more than 54 million Americans are responsible for serving as a caregiver for a loved one.
Three decades with Parkinson’s disease has made movement for my father Denny O’Leary nearly impossible. But with the help of another person, guiding him from spot to spot, supporting him in the shower, assisting as he gets dressed, and guiding a wheelchair from room to room, the absolute impossible becomes possible. And this care happens all day, every day.
For Dad, the person doing all that work is my mother, Susan O’Leary. She’s remarkable, and she’s not alone.
Often caregiving is a burden to bear and a problem to be solved. And yet as an expert in gerontology, Dr. Sarah Teten Kanter is on a mission to make caregiving and care receiving a time to savor and an opportunity for personal growth.
Today, Sarah shares the simple activities, conversation-inspiring questions, and self-care practices designed to immerse caregivers and their care partners in gratitude, empathy, forgiveness, love, and awe. Why these five specific emotions? By exuding these positive emotions, it’s been shown to improve health, reduce stress and create meaning in daily life in the relationships of caregivers and care receivers.
My friends, this conversation reminds us to embrace the full gift of life at every stage and every age.
- After the birth of her son, Sarah was inspired to leave her job in marketing to gerontology, the study of social, cultural, psychological, cognitive, and biological aspects of aging.
- In her dissertation, Sarah studied the emotions in those living with Alzheimer’s disease. She learned that our emotions remain, even if there’s cognitive changes.
- By focusing on their emotions rather than memories, people living with dementia can still have very rich, important, and meaningful lives.
- People need care. Sarah reminds us that everyone eventually is going to need assistance, whether that’s for a short period of time, through an acute illness or injury, or if it’s for a longer period of time through age-related related changes.
- Gratitude, empathy, forgiveness, love, and awe: By exuding these positive emotions, it’s been shown to improve health, reduce stress and create meaning in daily life in the relationships of caregivers and care receivers.
- Get a copy of Dr. Sarah Teten Kanter’s book Positive Caregiving here.
Did you enjoy today’s episode?
You’ll love my conversation with Richard Lui. As we recognize World Alzheimer’s Day today, hear Richard share how he left his 30-year career with NBC News to care for his father with Alzheimer’s and how the prolonged illness taught him the power of selflessness. While caring for others has profound difficulties, Richard shows us how it can also offer an abundance of purpose + joy. Listen to Richard Lui on ep. 358.
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SARAH TETEN KANTER'S LIVE INSPIRED 7
- Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
A. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.
- Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
- Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
A. My grandmother's wedding band. I've worn it at every major milestone since she's passed.
- Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
A. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A. Don't sweat the small stuff.
- Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
A. What are all of the things you want to do with your life? Not what are you going to do with your life? Never stop growing, never stop learning, keep growing.
- Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
A. Live in awe.